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Global Innovation Hubs Index 2022

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Executive summary

Global innovation and development in 2022 are clouded by uncertainties. The digital economy is one of the few economic sectors that is booming in an ever-changing world. Innovation, however, remains an important engine for economic growth. In a time of rapid change, the global innovation hubs (GIHs) have shown new characteristics. The Global Innovation Hubs Index (GIHI), developed by the Center for Industrial Development and Environmental Governance (CIDEG) at Tsinghua University and Nature Research, has been tracking and analysing year-on-year changes and the latest trends in global innovation since 2020. The GIHI2022 continues to apply scientific, objective, independent and impartial principles in evaluating 100 GIHs by three indicators known as research innovation, innovation economy, and innovation ecosystem, providing a reference for policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and practitioners.

The GIHI2022 report has improved its indicators and data in the following ways:

First, the number of evaluated cities has increased from 50 to 100, which also include mini-hubs with populations of less than one million. With a combined population of just 10.43% of the global total, these cities/metropolitan areas (MA) boast some of the world’s best innovation resources, including 125 world-leading universities, 133 of the top 200 world-class research institutions, and 1,870 leading innovative enterprises.

Second, the indicators are calculated using multi-source data instead of relying on single data source. As data availability is hampered by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and international unrest, we have diversified our data sources to ensure that the index system is robust and consistent. For example, data both from LinkedIn and are used to measure the ‘number of professional talent inflows’ for cities, and the ‘fixed broadband internet speed’ and the ‘mobile internet speed’ are used to measure the broadband connection speed of a city.

Third, some indicators of innovation economy and innovation ecosystem have been adjusted. For example, the ‘renewable energy technology patents’ has been added to the previous patent indicators of ‘artificial intelligence patents’ and ‘integrated circuit manufacturing patents’ to reflect the low-carbon transition and the sustainable development adopted around the world, and the ‘number of creative talent (per million people)’ has been used as an indicator of innovation ecosystem to measure a city’s ability to attract innovation talent.

The assessment results for GIHI2022 are as follows:

The GIHI2022 top 20 cities/metropolitan areas overall are San Francisco-San Jose, New York MA, Beijing, London MA, Boston MA, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Tokyo MA, Geneva, Paris MA, Shanghai, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Seoul MA, Singapore, Munich, Baltimore-Washington, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Amsterdam MA, San Diego MA, Cambridge, and Zurich.

The GIHI2022 top 20 cities/metropolitan areas in research innovation are New York MA, San Francisco-San Jose, Boston MA, Beijing, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Geneva, Cambridge, London MA, Oxford, Baltimore-Washington, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Ann Arbor, Zurich, Chapel Hill-Durham-Raleigh, San Diego MA, Paris MA, Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Boulder, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, and Stockholm.

The GIHI2022 top 20 cities/metropolitan areas in innovation economy are San Francisco-San Jose, Tokyo MA, Beijing, New York MA, Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe, Seoul MA, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Dublin, Taipei, Munich, Boston MA, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Shanghai, San Diego MA, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Singapore, Paris MA, Zurich, and London MA.

The GIHI2022 top 20 cities/metropolitan areas in innovation ecosystem are San Francisco-San Jose, London MA, New York MA, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Beijing, Toronto MA, Geneva, Boston MA, Paris MA, Singapore, Amsterdam MA, Shanghai, Munich, Seoul MA, Madrid, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Baltimore-Washington, Stockholm, and Tokyo MA.

Overall, the GIHI2022 has drawn the following conclusions:

First, the international innovation landscape is moving towards multipolarity and a low-carbon future, with Asian cities gaining competitive edge in innovation economy, and the Bay Areas and mini-hubs demonstrating unique innovation characteristics.

As a new centre of innovation, Asia stands out in renewable energy technology. Asian cities sweep up six spots among the top 20 in overall ranking, and have strong performance in green low-carbon development: seven out of the leading 10 cities/metropolitan areas for the total number of valid patents for renewable energy technology are in Asia. Cities/metropolitan areas including Beijing, Tokyo MA, Seoul MA, Hangzhou, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe are important nodes in the network of renewable energy technology, leading the world in a global shift towards green development.

An increasing number of Chinese cities have boosted their innovation capability and become GIHs, providing new power for global development. There are a total of 19 Chinese cities/metropolitan areas on the list. They are active in innovation economy and rapidly growing in research innovation and innovation ecosystem, resulting in improved capability across the board.

The Bay Areas hold prominent advantages in innovation resource integration. Four out of the GIHI2022 top 10 cities/metropolitan areas overall are in Bay Areas. In addition to the three Bay Areas of San Francisco, New York, and Tokyo, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which has overtaken Tokyo Bay Area for the first time, ranks sixth on the list and has become a new innovation hub in Asia.

The mini-hubs have made an excellent debut in the global innovation landscape with strong research performance. They are all located in the world’s top science hubs in Europe or the United States. Having access to unmatched scientific talent resources, all seven mini-hubs are among the top 20 cities overall and the top 5 for the number of active researchers (per million people).

Second, GIHs have strong agglomeration and spillover effects.

Cities vary in their abilities in agglomerating innovation elements and exerting spillover effect. San Francisco-San Jose, New York MA, Beijing, Boston MA have a heavier concentration of innovation elements, while London MA, Geneva, Paris MA, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Seoul MA, Baltimore-Washington, and Amsterdam MA have a stronger impact on the innovation capability of surrounding areas.

Third, in uncertain times, global research is becoming more concentrated, and the competitive heterogeneity in research innovation among different regions have increased.

The GIHI2022 ranking in research innovation has changed significantly. High-quality talent and resources are rapidly flowing to research hubs such as New York MA, Beijing, and San Francisco-San Jose. The difference in their research innovation capability is becoming more distinct. The United States, which is known for its science and technology human resources and knowledge creation, has 11 cities both in the top 20 cities in science and technology human resources, and in the top 20 cities in knowledge creation. Asian cities are picking up speed in building major scientific and technological infrastructure, and have established a comprehensive system of institutions that covers the whole knowledge chain and industry chain. European cities record balanced performance in all indicators in research innovation.

Fourth, in innovation economy, GIHs have demonstrated economic resilience despite the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented changes in the international situation, serving as an important engine for driving global growth.

Despite a decline in capital and talent flows, the 80-20 rule is even more evident in GIHs. Digital information technology, biotechnology, and renewable energy technology are the major technology domains, while high-tech manufacturing and emerging industries are the main industrial sectors for driving growth. The rapid growth of leading innovation enterprises and emerging industries stands in stark contrast to the global economic downturn.

Fifth, in innovation ecosystem, cities across Europe and the United States are in the lead with their unique innovation culture, and Asian cities are gaining by fostering an innovation ecosystem for emerging industries.

European cities outperform others in innovation ecosystem, reflecting its long-established innovation environment and culture. European cities have relatively strong performance in public services and innovation culture. Cities in the United States stand out in openness and collaboration and support for innovation, showcasing their strengths in global attraction and spillover effect. Although Asian cities, a late starter in innovation ecosystem, score relatively lower in this indicator, they stand out in renewable energy technology, innovation industry concentration, and digital information technology. A multi-dimensional innovation ecosystem network with Asian cities as its core is taking shape and expanding rapidly, which has an immediate impact on the global innovation ecosystem and facilitates its diversification.


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